The Withdrawal of Touch: Denis, Nancy and 'L’Intrus'

Laura McMahon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Recent work by Laura U. Marks has sought to theorize a mode of touch between
the viewer and the cinematic image, a relation predicated upon indexicality, presence and immediacy. The emphasis on close-up textures of the body in Claire Denis’s L’Intrus/The Intruder (2004) would seem to exemplify such claims for cinema. This article will suggest, however, that L’Intrus stages an interruptive relation to touch, one which can be seen to probe the phenomenological model elaborated by Marks. In L’Intrus, touch becomes a figure of spacing, fragmentation and withdrawal, rather than a mode of intimacy, presence and exchange. This article argues that Denis’s aesthetic has developed in dialogue with the work of Jean-Luc Nancy, a key thinker of touch and author of L’Intrus (2000), the text on which Denis’s film is based. Reading the film in relation both to this text and to Nancy’s Noli me tangere, the article examines what the dialogue emerging between Denis and Nancy contributes to thinking the relation between touch and the filmic image.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-39
Number of pages11
JournalStudies in French Cinema
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2008


  • Denis
  • L'intrus
  • Marks
  • Nancy
  • resurrection
  • touch


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